With November’s civic elections looming, members of Cloverdale’s Chamber of Commerce are being asked to cast their vote in another ballot next month – whether to join the Vancouver Board of Trade.
Member information sessions will be held Nov. 17 and 21 – following the municipal election on Nov. 15.
The information sessions are a lead up to a vote the following week, when members of the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce attending the Nov. 25 annual general meeting will be asked to cast their votes in what’s being described as an historical event.
Chamber president Brian Young, who was expected to step aside Tuesday in announcing his run for Surrey City Council, said the vote on joining the Vancouver Board of Trade has purposely been slated for after the municipal vote.
“We intentionally put this beyond the election,” he said. “This is about a business organization looking at the best connections to move the members’ initiatives forward.”
Young said the Cloverdale Chamber has been comparing the various benefits to members of other chambers of commerce and business organizations, including its neighbouring associations, the Surrey Board of Trade and the South Surrey/White Rock Chamber of Commerce. Those partnerships and close networking associations wouldn’t change if members agree to sign on as a chapter of the Vancouver Board of Trade.
“They’re great organizations,” he said. “We want to increase our member benefits and increase or advocacy efficiency. We feel [joining the Vancouver Board of Trade] only strengthens our membership benefits.”
The board of the Cloverdale chamber, he said, exists to serve members, and is eager to do what it can to strengthen the businesses community in all of Surrey – along with the Cloverdale business district.
The Vancouver Board of Trade has member benefits numbering in the “hundreds,” Young said, along with being the “biggest voice” for business “This side of Toronto.”
He pointed to the Vancouver organization’s ability to convince former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to waive her speaking fees when she addressed its members recently.
Surrey, meanwhile, “tried, but didn’t get Hillary” for its annual Regional Economic Conference, a hot ticket that’s attracted such speakers as former British prime minister Tony Blair and U.S. president George W. Bush.
He admits it may be a tough sell convincing Cloverdale’s business leaders to align with Vancouver:
“There’s obviously fear,” he said.
Young is convinced that Cloverdale – one of the city’s fastest-growing town centres in terms of population – is lagging behind other parts of Surrey because long-promised city projects such as developing the old Cloverdale mall site and investing in the Cloverdale Fairgrounds have not yet materialized.
He believes joining the Vancouver trade organization would give Cloverdale businesses more clout when it comes to putting the city’s spotlight on priorities in the historic town centre.
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In August, the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce announced that following discussions this summer, the board had voted in favour of formally engaging the Vancouver Board of Trade to reach agreement on uniting the two organizations.
At the time, Young said the relationship would “immediately deliver a much higher value, and broader mix, of financial benefits to our members than we can offer on our own.”
Janet Austin, board chair of the VBoT said, “We are delighted at the Cloverdale Chamber board decision.” adding, “We look forward to collaborating with the working group of the Cloverdale board to develop a stronger voice for business that will meaningfully benefit the Members of both organizations.”
The Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce, formerly the Cloverdale Board of Trade, was established in 1927.